A book with all-star mouthwatering recipes to kill for…
A long-awaited book review that is not just on Columbo but with an all-star Columbo guest star cast.
Cooking With Columbo – Peter Falk’s Pumpkin Lasagne, Silver Screen Suppers
One of the more common questions in those entertainment-themed interviews is answering which actors or actresses – dead or alive – would invite to your dream dinner party. It is admittedly one of those questions that you answer without really thinking about it.
This question implies that when Jack Nicholson, Leonard DiCaprio, Lee Grant etc turn up at the door – as they would if Realweegiemidget was the hostess with the mostess – for my dinner party, and it will be Darlin Husband who gets to mingle with them. They might pop their head around the kitchen door but I won’t see them properly until dinner is served.
Instead, the question should be which actor or actresses dinner party would you like to attend. This question followed by and with which other guests. It is then that I recommend you consult this book (or any of the other themed celebrity cookbooks that Jenny Hammerton has written).
This book is a treasure trove of recipes from the celebrity rich and famous. With one thing in common that they all starred in the Columbo TV Series. Then you are free to select your host or hostess, depending on how yummy a recipe sounds… So after checking this book out, George Hamilton, expect me over when you are making your Ginger Snap Dandy.
If you don’t know who Columbo is do check out my review HERE from February 2018. This is a new post is a follow up to that February post. Back then I was invited to join Jenny in a cook-along making chilli, using a recipe from guest star Johnny Cash – who appears in the Columbo series. This was part of the publicity to promote this book.
I should mention now that since this cook-along, I’ve only seen 2 more episodes of this detective show. I had only seen the one with Billy Connolly back then. More recently I’ve seen the episode with Ruth Gordon. I’ve also vicariously seen the one with Lee Grant. This episode was reviewed (3 times) back in August 2018 for my Lee Grant blogathon (which Jenny joined in). But it appears I’ve
some a lot of catching up to do as this book outlines much, much more on this American detective series.
Now it’s time to learn more about the book, Cooking with Columbo, Suppers with the Shambling Sleuth. This book was written by archivist Jenny Hammerton who runs the blog Silver Screen Suppers. This is a fabulous site that boasts recipes from other stars of TV and films. These recipes are from both living stars and those who have sadly passed away. Jenny also adds some of her cooking-themed videos on these dishes HERE on YouTube. Above is a wee video of her making that Columbo actor’s pumpkin lasagne.
Most of this review will focus on the book content as gleaned from those episodes I’ve seen. This if are you like me and you don’t like to find out anything, before watching a crime-themed episode, including the murderer and the stars. I didn’t read the episode’s description of those episodes I hadn’t seen as I didn’t want to spoil future viewing. But I promise to read them as I see the episodes, Jenny. However, all the episodes and recipe descriptions follow the same format.
At the start of the book, Jenny provides a wonderful and engaging foreword from Lt Columbo via The Columbophile Blog. This sets the scene as he talks of his dinner party dream guests (I imagine that Mrs Columbo would be in the kitchen). This is followed by Jenny’s warm and touching description of the show for the newbie Columbo fan. I’d known about this detective’s trademark catchphrase – Just one more thing – and his scruffy appearance with that infamous raincoat. But I’ll now be looking out for those hard-boiled eggs, his wife and Dog.
Jenny is a passionate advocate for this show which she admits to “skiving off” school for and for watching those episodes as comfort TV. She gives an affectionate look at each episode and I learnt more about my favourite actress Lee Grant in Jenny’s description of Lee’s guest star episode. Jenny adds how Lee Grant was on the stage with Peter Falk on Broadway. Jenny also injects some great humour into this episode description.
Each of Jenny’s spoiler-free descriptions of specific episodes follows the same idea as the show. Jenny tells you who did it, but not how they did it. This is accompanied by a few quotes from the show or titbits from the episode concerned along with the guest star’s recipe. However, you can ignore all those episode descriptions and check out those yummy sounding celebrity recipes instead (if like me you don’t want spoilers).
Lee Grant’s Chicken Malibu recipe was then added complete with ingredients, method and some helpful tips. Jenny has painstakingly translated all guest star recipes into metric measurements, which was a lovely touch by this British authoress. She also adds British branded seasoning packs which may help you in making these appetising recipes. This invaluable information means I can now make these recipes so much easier.
Jenny also enrols test cooks for each recipe from her blog readers, friends and family to feedback on making all these recipes. This again is a lovely unique touch as she adds their honest thoughts on making these fabulous dishes. There is also a source list of the original references for these recipes in this book.
Jenny has compiled recipes from just about every guest star from Columbo. There are recipes from everyone from Donald Pleasence to Leonard Nimoy and Janet Leigh to Honor Blackman. Recipes include starters, main courses and desserts. There are dishes for every occasion such as Martin Landau’s Jerk Beef Steak and Janet Leigh’s Cheese Souffle. She even adds dishes that Peter Falk himself made including the scrumptious looking Pumpkin lasagne which features on the book cover and as a video in this post.
All in all, this is a must-buy book both for Columbo fans and foodies alike. Jenny also has Vincent Price and Angela Lansbury books in progress. (I joined in the latter making a trifle with Linda Blair’s recipe HERE). But as my favourite Columbo co-star Lee Grant summed up so beautifully, I felt that this fabulously researched book kept her and other’s recipes “alive”.
Before I go and try and make Lee’s Chicken Malibu.. to quote the man himself, just one more thing Jenny. If you want a co-writer for a Dallas guest star themed cookery book one day, count me in for help with those episode descriptions… after all, I not only own those all essential boxsets but as regular readers will confirm, I do tend to dish out more than one reference of this show in my reviews…
On author Jenny Hammerton in her own words …
Jenny Hammerton has been collecting the favourite recipes of her movie star icons for around 25 years. She has over 8,000 in her collection. She loves trying them out and writes about them on the Silver Screen Suppers website. Her version of Louise Brooks’ Knickerbocker Chicken Supreme was a triumph, but her Charlie Chaplin’s Apple Roll less so. Sometimes she makes YouTube videos about movie star cocktails too, the Binnie Barnes’ Schnorkel was a humdinger! Jenny is the author of Cooking With Joan Crawford as well as Cooking With Columbo. She is currently working on a Vincent Price cookbook and a Murder, She Wrote Cookbook. Volunteers to test movie star recipes are always welcome!
A disclaimer and personal thank you to Jenny Hammerton for asking me to write this post. Financial compensation was not received for this post. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own. If you are involved in the entertainment industry and would like to be featured or promoted here, please drop a line to me via my Contact Me Page.